An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta

Department of Education and Science

 

Subject Inspection of German

REPORT

 

Pobalscoil Rosmini,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Roll number: 91344V

 

Date of inspection:   2 April 2009

 

 

 

  

Subject inspection report

Subject provision and whole school support

Planning and preparation

Teaching and learning

Assessment

Summary of main findings and recommendations

School response to the report

 

 

 

 

Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in German

 

Subject inspection report

 

This report has been written following a subject inspection in Pobalscoil Rosmini, Dublin 9. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in German and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of this subject in the school. The evaluation was conducted over one day during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined studentsí work, and had discussions with the teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teacherís written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and relevant staff.

The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.

  

Subject provision and whole school support

 

Pobalscoil Rosmini is a mixed post-primary school. Up until the year 2000 only boys were admitted to the school. In that year a decision was taken to enrol girls. The proportion of boys enrolled in the school is still significantly large. The current enrolment is 372 students. The curricular programmes on offer in the school are: the Junior Certificate (JC), the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP), the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and the Leaving Certificate established (LC). The school is to be commended for offering a good range of curricular programmes. German is available in the JC, TY and LC.

 

German is offered initially in first year as part of a taster programme. There are three class groups in first year. Students are banded in these class groups. First-year students are offered a taster programme where they can try optional subjects such as German, French, Metalwork and Science for approximately seven to eight weeks. At the end of the taster programme first-year students choose between French and German. Students continue with their chosen language until the Junior Certificate examination. The number of students taking German in all years is quite low. In total in the school 48 students, representing approximately 12% of the student cohort, take the subject. This is an average class size of 8 students. However it is commendable that German is well supported by management, in terms of the human resources and timetabling allocation, which has ensured that German has retained its position in the school curriculum.

 

TY is optional in the school. Generally students who have taken German to junior cycle continue with the subject in TY. However in the current year a module on driving has been timetabled opposite German and this has led to a situation where a number of students attend German on a part time basis. The result is that, through poor attendance in the German class, students have missed a lot and are unable to keep up with what is going on in lessons when they do attend. The current arrangement is unsatisfactory and is hampering studentsí progress. It is recommended that the manner in which German is offered and timetabled in TY be reviewed. Students should be clear at the beginning of the year that, if they opt for German, they must attend all lessons.

 

There is a very good time allocation for the subject. Students in junior and senior cycle, with the exception of TY, have five periods of German each week. In TY three periods per week are allocated to German. Double periods are assigned in all years to facilitate the banding of other optional subjects with German. Some of these other optional subjects are practical and as such necessitate double periods. However double periods are not optimal for the teaching of languages. It is recommended that where possible single class periods be allocated to the teaching of German.

 

German is taught in a base classroom. This room is very well decorated with materials to aid the teaching and learning of German. Particularly impressive is the display of posters relating to the studentsí trips to Germany. This gives students appropriate ownership of their learning environment. The department is well resourced. Books, magazines, posters, films, CDs and other useful resources are all made available by management to support the teaching of German. This is commendable. It is recommended that a comprehensive list of all resources for German be made and filed in the subject planning documentation. This will facilitate planning for resource acquisition in the future.

 

To support the teaching and learning of German, many activities are organised. The learners are brought to the Irish Film Institute to see films in German. Trips to the Goethe Institut are also organised. In addition there is a strong emphasis in the school on the provision of opportunities to experience the language and culture of Germany first hand. For students in third year, a class trip to Cologne, which involved linking up with a second level school there, was made available. Fourth-year and fifth-year students have the possibility of taking part in a four week exchange with the Domgymnasium Naumburg. In sixth year, students can avail of a class trip to Berlin. Following trips and exchanges, students are encouraged to keep contact with exchange partners via email. The opportunities provided by such exchanges and contacts are excellent as they enable the students to have authentic learning experiences.

 

Planning and preparation

 

School development planning is established in the school. As there is no coordinator of development planning, the principal and deputy principal lead the work in this area in the school.  Time is allocated by school management to subject departments to conduct planning for individual subjects.

 

A plan for the teaching and learning of German was made available on the day of the inspection. This plan contained the mission statement of the German department, information on departmental policy and programmes and outlines of subject aims. Some detail in terms of themes and grammar to be covered in each term in first year and sixth year was also included in the yearly plan. It is recommended that the plan be developed to include the content of the German programme for second, third and fifth years. The plan for German in the TY is included in the overall TY programme. It is recommended that this also be placed in the subject plan for German. In planning for the delivery of German in TY it is recommended that the document Writing the Transition Year Programme (Part 2) be consulted and used as a basis for the development of a plan for German in the programme.  All plans should also include information on student learning outcomes. Given that the student cohort is mixed ability, it is recommended that planning reflect differentiated approaches in terms of content, teaching methodologies and assessment.

 

Teaching and learning

 

At the beginning of lessons the learning intention was shared with students. This is good practice as it establishes expectations of intended learning outcomes among the students and creates a strong sense of purpose in the lessons. Lesson content was good. In senior cycle prescribed examination material formed the basis for the lesson. In other years themes such as hobbies, interests and school life were the chosen topics. This is commendable as these themes relate directly to the learnersí own lives and provide for a student-centred approach to language learning.

 

The teacher use of the target language was excellent. All communication with students was carried out in German. Students showed good comprehension of the language both in the course of lessons and in interaction with the inspector. In all lessons, students were given opportunities to use German in a meaningful manner. To build on the good practice observed, it is recommended that students be given increased opportunities to practise the oral skill in the classroom. The balance of teacher talk and student talk should be redressed so as to maximise the time available to students to speak in the target language.

 

A variety of methodologies was used to good effect in the course of the lessons observed. In some lessons students engaged in pair work asked and answered questions in German. This proved to be an effective method of consolidating learning. In another lesson observed, a spider diagram was used at the beginning of the lesson to gather ideas and vocabulary from the students in relation to the theme of hobbies. This technique of brainstorming whereby studentsí prior knowledge is reactivated was used to very good effect and could usefully be extended to other lessons.

 

In some lessons the integration of the skills of language acquisition was observed, for example where students were asked to read and then speak on the same theme. This is good practice and should be extended and developed further in all lessons. It is recommended that, when covering themes in lessons, tasks involving reading, writing, speaking and listening be given to students. This methodology will serve to consolidate the learning of vocabulary and grammar.

 

The classroom atmosphere in all lessons was very good. It was clear that there was mutual respect between learners and their teacher. In some lessons students sat in a semi circle. This was most conducive to good language learning and facilitated good communication between students in the classroom. This seating arrangement could usefully be extended to other class groups from time to time.

 

Assessment

 

Formal and informal assessment takes place on a very regular basis. Students are frequently given vocabulary and grammar tests when a unit of learning has been completed. There are major tests held at Christmas and summer for students who are not taking the certificate examinations. Excellent records of studentsí progress are kept electronically by the teacher. All information relating to studentsí assessments and assignments is clearly recorded and easily accessible by the teacher. Having such clear records in this manner is effective practice and facilitates good focus on student learning outcomes.

 

Homework from previous lessons was referred to and corrected during lessons. This provides for effective continuity between lessons and aids student learning. In the course of lesson observation it was noted that the teacher circulated in order to ensure that students had completed homework from the previous lesson. In a minority of instances where students had not completed the assigned homework tasks the teacher took appropriate action to deal with the situation. Monitoring student homework in this manner is good practice.

 

In TY students are assessed by means of project work. Some examples of excellent project work were noted in the course of the evaluation. For example a student had completed a very good project on fairytales in German. This was linked to a visit TY students had undertaken to the Goethe Institut where the learners had the opportunity of carrying out research for projects. This is very good practice. The use of project work in assessment in TY is in keeping with the ethos of the programme where students are encouraged to be autonomous learners and is to be commended. Project work is also used very effectively as a means of assessment in junior cycle classes. It was reported that students are very enthusiastic about making projects which are then put on display in the classroom.

 

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

       German is well supported by the school management and there is a very good time allocation for the subject.

       German is taught in a base classroom which is very well decorated with learnersí work. This provides a very good learning environment for the

††† students.

       The opportunities provided by exchanges and contacts organised by the German department in the school are excellent as they enable the students

†††† to have authentic learning experiences.

       The teacher use of the target language was excellent.

        A variety of methodologies were used to good effect in the course of the lessons observed.

       The classroom atmosphere in all lessons was very good.

       Project work is used very effectively as a means of assessment.

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

        It is recommended that the manner in which German is timetabled in TY be reviewed in order to maximise student attendance in class.

       All plans for the teaching and learning of German should include information on student learning outcomes. Given that the student cohort is mixed

†††† ability, it is recommended that planning reflect differentiated approaches in terms of content, teaching methodologies and assessment.

       To build on the good practice observed regarding the use of the target language it is recommended that students be given increased opportunities to

††† practise the oral skill in the classroom.

 

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of German, the principal and deputy-principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.

 

 

 

  

Published, December 2009

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

School Response to the Report

 

Submitted by the Board of Management

 

 

 

 

 

   

Area 2   Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection

               activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection.          

  

German is not set opposite the driving module in the current timetable